Death is one of those cards that draws fear in the hearts of the uninitiated. Hollywood hasn’t helped in this regard. Drawing the Death card in a reading is sure to result in a nasty accident in the very near future. In reality, the Death card is very rarely connected to actual, physical death.

When the Man Comes Around

As an example, Death often shows up in relation to a pregnant woman. She will likely need some reassure that her and her baby will be just fine, again that stigma arises. But the actual meaning of the Death card in this situation, points to the death of a stage of life. Her carefree days of existence are soon to end.  Her world will revolve around another human being. Anyone who has had a child will understand the impact a birth has on your life, you are never the same again. So we are seeing a death of sorts, but it is the death of a certain period in her life.

Thinking about the impact of actual death, gives some insight into this card. Like most things in this life, death is a double-edged sword. For someone who is aged and suffering a painful terminal illness, death is a release. No longer will they suffer the pain and sadness of the process of dying. They are tired, had enough of the fight. They are ready to go.  Then the worst is over, they are at rest, at peace. A death is always a sad occasion, but in instances where the person is suffering, death is a reprieve. Not just for the one suffering, but for her loved ones that have cared for her and watched the one they love fade away. We attend the funeral, say our goodbyes, but afterwards it is time to celebrate the life they have lived, to be thankful for the good times we have had with them, to have had them in our lives and known them.


On the other end of this, are those that are taken much to soon. The death of a child is a horrific thing, something people never recover from. Parents with young children, murder victims. Here death is an awful thing, our deepest and darkest fears realized.

So what are the differences and similarities between the two? I think a big factor is lifespan. We will all die, that is inevitable. But there is a big difference between someone who passes away peacefully in bed at age 90, to a 10-year-old run down in the street. One has had their time, lived an entire life, the other life had barely even begun. We cannot celebrate a life that has hardly been lived, only feel a deep sadness for all they, and us, have missed out on.

The similarity is that we have no control over these events. Even when a death could have possibly been prevented, there is no going back. Death puts all the ‘could have been’s’ far from our reach.

This brings us to the big questions, ones we are unable to answer, in this life at least.  Why do these things happen? Why does one get to live a full lifespan, yet another doesn’t even take their first breath? Is there a purpose behind it all? A bigger universal picture? An afterlife? Questions we will never have the answers for, yet continue to seek.

Another common factor in death, is change. The one who has passed has definitely changed, transformed, but so have those that loved them. When you have lost someone, your life is irrevocably changed. A hole is left in your life and in your heart. Young or old, we will miss those we have lost for the rest of our days.

But every ending has a beginning. It has to have. Whether we are changed for the better or for the worse, is up to us. Someone who has lost a loved one can live this new stage of life in sadness or regret, or they can make something positive from their loss. Donating organs, raising funds for charity, raising awareness of dangers, perhaps preventing another family going through the same agony.


 The Death card is very similar to physical death here. This change is going to happen, be forced upon us, whether we like it or not. Sometimes we may be okay with this, sometimes we will fight it for all we are worth, but it will happen either way. It will inevitably bring with it a sense of loss and sadness, maybe even regret. But it is up to us where we go from here. We can take the opportunity to change our lives for the better, to make it a positive change, or hang on to a past that no longer serves us, maybe is not even there any more.

More Major Arcana?


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